Legacies run through The Eddy, Netflix's new Parisian jazz drama. Its protagonist, Elliot (Moonlight and High Flying Bird star André Holland), has left New York to run a club in the City of Lights — an act already loaded with generational meaning — and also is navigating the complicated relationship he has with his estranged daughter, Julie, played by Amandla Stenberg. These twin dynamics set up the series, so it makes sense that they were top of mind at MTV News's visit to the set of the show earlier this year.
"Frankly, as a Black man, I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that I'm representing our culture in the right way. That's something I always feel very strongly about," Holland said. "Particularly in this setting, the storybook of Black artists moving to Paris is already political, and once you set that up, it already hearkens back to days gone by. So I just want to make sure that we're telling the story in a really culturally sensitive way."
That story wouldn't be complete without the music, and The Eddy — which sees La La Land maestro Damien Chazelle as both executive producer and director of its first two episodes — found its musical north stars in Glen Ballard and Randy Kerber. "I think that he tried to bring jazz back into the center of American popular song," executive producer Alan Poul said about Ballard.
That's only where the story begins. Below, find all the highlights we learned while being on set during the creation of The Eddy — which premiered on May 8 — and catch the show streaming on Netflix right now.
Stenberg sought to make her teenage character, Julie, free of clichés.Courtesy Netflix
"I'm playing a rebellious 16-year-old girl. I think her in particular, there's probably more opinions around what's going on in her head and what she thinks and why she's doing certain things," Stenberg said. "I kind of feel like it's my responsibility to ensure that when playing a teenager, especially one who has a lot of issues or challenges — I think it feels important to me that I never fall into the trope of an angsty teenage girl and I try to ground it in something that feels real to me and something I've observed or either experienced, because it can be really easy to fall into archetypes."
Stenberg and Holland preserved their complicated dynamic on the set.Courtesy Netflix
"They have kind of a tumultuous relationship, and sometimes it kind of bums me out because I kind of want to go out with André, get dinner and stuff," Stenberg said. "But we've actually just kind of been letting whatever we can read on the set kind of naturally settle, and kind of building our relationship with each other through that. At a certain point, it gets weird to try to kick it with your estranged father — we can't really go out for a drink, you know?"
"We never talked about it," Holland added. "We never said, 'Hey, don't talk to me, I don't want to be hanging out.' But we both understand that OK, we'll just give each other some space, and I think that's helped us. But she's dope. I've learned a lot from her, and I hope she will say the same about me."
Holland's character pays homage to a lineage of Black American artists exploring the artistry of Paris.Courtesy Netflix
"Obviously there is a history of all these people — Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison and Miles Davis — coming over here in search of something, and I think [Elliot] comes for a similar reason, in search of something and for me that's his identity," Holland said. "In my imagination, he's a guy who's played everything that he's been told to play all of his life, and as a result he's been rewarded for it, but he's left some part of himself behind. So to me, this series is about him trying to reconnect with his own roots, through his daughter. And she's in a place where she needs that cultural connection. She's a product of a biracial relationship, so I think she's been separated from her Blackness, and so I'm interested in that journey, and I hope that something that Americans, particularly Black Americans will be able to understand."
The Eddy band might even head out on a real-world tour — once it's safe to do so.Courtesy Netflix
"They can't wait. That's how much they love it," Ballard said. "They just want to play this music for anybody that would listen. And I think there'll be a lot of people interested. It's a magic experience to sit close to them and hear them do it. I mean, I get chills every time it happens, and they're my favorite band ever. They're that good. And it's kind of a fantasy for me to have that level of musicianship. They can play all these songs."